Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Hails Debutants After Manchester United Loss to Astana

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2019

Manchester United's Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures from the sideline during the UEFA Europa League group L football match between Astana and Manchester United in Nur-Sultan on November 28, 2019. (Photo by stringer / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)
STRINGER/Getty Images

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised his trio of debutants, Di'Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt, after Thursday's 2-1 UEFA Europa League defeat to Astana.

The teenaged trio all made their senior bows at the Astana Arena in Kazakhstan, where United fell to their first Europa League defeat of the season despite captain Jesse Lingard opening the scoring in the 10th minute.

Solskjaer put out a youthful side for the fixture with United already having booked their spot in the knockout rounds:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

A youthful line-up for Man Utd. ⚽️ Greenwood leads the line. Ⓒ Lingard takes the armband. 🙌 Di'Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt all make their debuts in Astana. https://t.co/AQzRzNrTFT

Match of the Day @BBCMOTD

Manchester United's starting line up against Astana has an average age of just 21.6 years old. Build-up: https://t.co/ipDYdhx4kc #bbcfootball #MUFC https://t.co/t2erL4Ksf6

The Red Devils were dominant in the first half, but the game turned in seven second-half minutes when Dmitri Shomko netted the equaliser before an unfortunate own-goal from Bernard just after the hour.

Despite the result, Solskjaer said there were big positives to be taken from the performance of his inexperienced side, per Jack Wilkinson of Sky Sports:

"We're disappointed with the end result but there are definitely positives. I thought we started the game fantastically, the boys took control of the game, and the response after they scored two was also good.

"I was disappointed with that 10-minute spell, you could feel pressure was coming but there were some fantastic performances by the three young lads who made their debut, all were excellent."

The Norwegian urged Bernard to forget the own goal, adding:

"He was excellent. He defended well, some last-ditch clearances. Sometimes strikers miss chances and sometimes defenders score an own goal, that's partly down to bad luck. He did really well, that's why I want him to remember this game."

AZ Alkmaar missed the opportunity to leapfrog United in Group L when they drew 2-2 against Partizan Belgrade.

As a result, United will advance to the last 32 as group winners if they avoid defeat against the Dutch side at Old Trafford on December 12.

United are back in action in the Premier League on Sunday when they host Aston Villa.

The Red Devils will be looking to get back to winning ways after the loss to Astana and last Sunday's dramatic 3-3 draw against Sheffield United:

B/R Football @brfootball

THIS GAME 😍 https://t.co/jPQUdMkhZh

United have a superb record against Villa. They have not lost to them since 2009 and have beaten West Midlands side in each of their last six meetings at Old Trafford.